The segment between Rs.10000 to Rs.15000 is one of the densest in the markets, with many manufacturers launching a lot of products in the price range as it is a sweet spot where you get great features without shelling out a lot of money. To put this into perspective Xiaomi has five products in this category Note 5, Redmi Y2, Note 5 Pro, Mi A1 and Mi Max 2.


When we last tested and reviewed smartphones under Rs.15,000, the Mi A1 emerged victorious simply because of the superb value package it provided courtesy of the great build quality, long battery life, quality display, terrific cameras and the Android one program. But in just a few months we have a whole new set of smartphones competing with each other.

To help you find the best phone for your buck, we have done a boatload of research, reading through multiple review websites and customer reviews. So sit back and read through all the work that we have done to help you find the best smartphone under 15000.

Best phone under 15000

Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro

 One of the few phones that ticks all the boxes that a customer wants. Armed with a great camera, powerful processor, good battery life and a superb display the Redmi Note 5 Pro is still king despite its recent Rs.1000 price hike. What's more is it still manages to hold ground even with the more powerful Mi A2 now being launched. The Redmi Note 5 Pro trumps the A2 with its better battery optimizations and larger battery, brighter screen, sd card support and the presence of a headphone jack. 

 Everything put together this is not just the best smartphone in India under 15000 but also one of the best camera phone under 15000.



Best phone under 15000: Budget & Best battery life

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1



For a long time, the words budget and Xiaomi always went together like bread and butter but the Asus Zenfone Max Pro was amongst the first to rattle Xiaomi at its game. Armed with the same processor and similar display as the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Asus’ phone managed to undercut the Redmi 5 Pro by nearly Rs.1000 (Now Rs.2000). All this while providing a much larger 5000mAh battery, a louder speaker, stock android and even a dedicated sd card slot.

But the slightly inferior camera, dull design and lack of screen protection make it more of a budget pick in the best phone under 15000 category.


 This is a really long post! Use these links to jump around


Why Trust Us?

We have spent over 100 hours in the past year going through benchmarks, vetting recommendations, talking to experts and reading about the market trends and technologies  from other reputed tech sites to truly help find the best smartphone for you. 

To find the best smartphone under 15000 we went over reviews from a lot of websites - from Gsmarena to Fonearena - to see if there was a consensus on which phone was the best. We then further verified this by reading through verified reviews on Amazon and Flipkart from people who actually have bought and used the product. Mainly, to make sure the big sites didn’t miss anything.

We also assessed the performance of each phone’s using benchmark data. We checked all the big ones - Antutu, Geekbench 4 benchmark, and 3DMark. This helped give us an idea about the phone CPU, GPU, Gaming, Battery and everyday performance.


How we selected?


We started by looking at suggestions from reputed websites to see what they had suggested. We collected a few picks from them and moved to our next step.

We then listed all the best phone under 15000 from Amazon and Flipkart and then went through their specifications and features while analyzing the reviews from verified customers.

We then shortlisted phones based on a few set specifications. We also made sure recently launched phones were picked for review.

The few of the specifications were:

  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage or more
  • Latest processor
  • Dual cameras
  • Full HD screen or more
  • 3000mAh battery or more

From our shortlist phones, we picked the top two, which had a good blend of features and specifications.

The selected two phones were:

  • Redmi Note 5 Pro
  • Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1

Best phone under 15000 in detail


xiaomi redmi pro

Specifications

Pros


  • Superb screen with good brightness and contrast

  • Gorilla Glass protection

  • Superb performance from the Snapdragon 636

  • Great cameras with video stabilization

  • Great battery life

  • Good speaker audio quality

  • Good build quality

  • Fast charging support

  • Phone cover is provided in the box


Cons


  • MIUI is not everyone's cup of tea

  • Not the best in terms of design

  • Hybrid sim slot

  • Supports fast charging but fast charger not bundled in the kit

What's it missing?


  • USB-C

  • True waterproofing (No IP rating)

  • Useful Secondary camera (No optical zoom, wide angle)

  • 4K Video recording

  • Super slow motion video

  • Dedicated MicroSD card slot

  • NFC

  • Stereo speakers

  • Dedicated DAC

  • Doesn’t support HD Playback for Netflix and Amazon Prime (Lacks Widevine L1 certification)

Design and Build: Well-built, but a mixture of Apple and Xiaomi design

back and front side view smartphone

Launched alongside the Redmi Note 5, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is from the time when 18:9 display were a craze and notched/bezel less trend wasn't wide spread. This gives us a phone that looks modern but not as much as the newer generation of notched displays. The rear design of the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a bit confusing, it still has the same design from the Redmi note 3 era but plastered on the back are also the dual camera sensors which shamelessly resembles the iPhone X.

We loved the newer color options that are now present as they give the user more options than the dull black or gold only color options. We also like the fact that there is no notch present, this lets you use the full real estate of the display.  Xiaomi's shift to on-screen keys also makes the front look much cleaner. There is still a headphone jack thankfully but we also still have the micro USB port. Come on Xiaomi, we need a USB-C port.

Like the Redmi Note 5, the Note 5 Pro’s back still has the mismatch of colors on the rear panel especially on the Gold variant as reported by Android Central. This is because of the mix of two different materials i.e. plastic and metal.

But dull design aside, TechRadar appreciated the metal build, the ergonomics and the heft to the build quality. We particularly loved the space between the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and the camera as that means no smudging.

The dual camera does protrude from the phone body, inviting scratches if you tend to place your phone on its back. The phone has only the IR blaster and microphone on the top. While the bottom of the phone houses the 3.5 mm jack, the primary microphone, USB-C port, and the loudspeaker. The front of the phone accommodates the display, camera, sensors, and the earpiece.

The tall screen makes it's easy to hold in the hand and is, in fact, very space efficient as you can have a 6-inch display in the frame of a 5.5inch screen.  The screen is made of Gorilla Glass, which makes it far less susceptible to scratches and damage from minor drops.

Software: Typical MIUI goodness

Powering the Redmi Note 5 Pro is the MIUI 9.5 version which was based on Android Nougat when launched but now is updated to Oreo.

Powering the Redmi Note 5 Pro is the MIUI 9.5 version which was based on Android Nougat when launched but now is updated to Oreo.

Given that MIUI is a customized version of Android, it lags behind stock Android phones in terms of everyday speed. This is not to suggest that the phone has lag issues—it’s actually quite smooth to use. It's just that for day-to-day usage, opening apps is marginally slower than stock Android, splash screens are displayed for longer, and exiting apps is also marginally slower.

Techradar too loved the smoothness and speed of MIUI. They found opening apps and using the camera to be a snappy affair. 

For a long time MIUI has had issues when it comes to updates but Xiaomi has for some time refreshed itself updated even their 4 year old phones with new software updates.

After an impressive debut with Stock Android on the Mi A1, many people expected Xiaomi to launch phones with pure android in India. But Xiaomi has decided to go back to its MIUI roots to offer more features to people.

Hardware: Good display, great processor and decent audio

Packing a modern FHD+ 18:9 display the Note 5 Pro truly manages to stand out. Android Authority was impressed with the display, which they found to be bright with vivid colors and contrast. The high pixel density also meant great text and sharpness and despite the screens reflective nature they found it to work well outdoors. Overall TechRadar found the display to be a slight improvement over the Mi A1 and were pleased with the touch response and the display quality. The only issue with the display most reviewers mentioned was the undisclosed generation of Gorilla Glass, but it's good to have some protection.

Under the hood is a Snapdragon 636 which finally marks Xiaomi's departure from the Snapdragon 625. But wait! they still use that chipset in their sub-10000 phones. Talk about processor hoarding. Despite what the name suggests the Snapdragon 636 is more closer to the Snapdragon 650 rather than the 625. You have four high-performance ARM Cortex A73 based cores and four power saving ARM Cortex A53 based cores. Together you have a great blend of raw performance and superb power saving. Pushing the phone with memory and GPU intensive tasks yielded superb results which left Android Authority impressed. They found it could handle most graphically intensive games with ease and showed no performance lag. For people who want numbers, the benchmarks results show that it is pretty much top of the line when it comes to CPU and GPU.

Talking about audio quality GadgetsNow said, "Both the call quality and the Audio quality are also quite good." They noted that the sound does get muffled when the device is used in landscape mode as the speakers are downwards facing, we faced a similar issue when we tested the Infinix Zero 5 and the Honor 8 Pro along with almost every other phone which has a downward facing speaker.


Note:The Redmi Note 5 Pro had issues with low volume from earpiece and headphones but Xiaomi has fixed the issue in its latest MIUI update.
 

Camera: Improves over its predecessors but misses the optical zoom

With a 12Mpx + 5Mpx rear camera and a 20Mpx front camera, Xiaomi wants to show how serious they are about imaging. Their launch video showed a lot of comparisons with the iPhone X often touting the Note 5 Pro to have better bokeh modes with far more superior edge detection courtesy of an AI engine. Xiaomi was also very keen to show off their beauty mode which was developed in India which they claim works better than the beauty mode on other phones detecting the skin better and applying filters much more gradually. Now that is a lot of talks but does it have substance? Let’s find out.

black colour camer

The image quality on the Redmi Note 5 Pro is actually very good with punchy colors and a warm tint in good lighting conditions, as tested by TechRadar. TechRadar says the Redmi Note 5 Pro's camera is on par with the Mi A1 but with that phone not being on sale most of the time, the Note 5 Pro is one of the best cameras in its categories. Reviews of the bokeh mode vary with TechRadar saying its bokeh mode lacks details while Android Central found the edge detection to be spot on. What we feel from experience is bokeh mode works better with simpler subjects while adding something complex like a person with curly hair will confuse the system and it will often end up blurring parts of the subject. Don't worry it's software and software will improve. 

We liked that the phone has Electronic Video Stabilisation even though it is limited to 1080p @30fps. This gives noticeably smooth footage. We did not like the lack of 4K recording, especially when the much cheaper Redmi Note 5 supports it.

Moving onto the front camera, GadgetsNow says the front camera will amaze you with the perfection of the bokeh effects.  While other websites called the images to have a good balance of details as well as softness due to the beauty mode (TechRadar). The Redmi Note 5 Pro is truly one of the best camera phone under 15000 due to its great picture quality, selfies and smooth video recording. 

Battery: Stellar battery life with fast charging support

The 4000mAh packed battery is said to last a day with a screen on time of 8+ hours (Gsmarena). What more is that the PCMark Work benchmark yields a result of 14 hours and 10 min which is mighty impressive.

While it does support Quick Charge 2.0 it takes around 2 hours 20 minutes to charge, which isn't as fast as Quick Charge 3.0. Using the onboard 10W charger requires a charge time of over 2 hours 30 minutes.


Note: Geekyranjit did confirm in his video that the Note 5/Note 5 Pro, in fact, does support fast charging (Quick Charge 2.0), however, the bundled charger is limited to 5V at 2A. But you can always pick up Xiaomi's QC 3.0 charger which works with the Redmi Note 5/ Note 5 Pro.

In Short

Pushing a smartphone in the market today is very hard especially with fierce competition from most companies. In such a market having a phone stay relevant for as much as 6 months is difficult and the Redmi Note 5 Pro proves manages to do just that. Its blend of great performance and battery life, smooth user experience and superb camera and an affordable price tag make it undoubtedly the best android phone under 15000.
 

Best phone under 15000 in detail (Budget and Best battery life)

ASUS M1 slide view


Specifications

Pros

  • Amazing battery life

  • Stock Android goodness (Two version updates promised)

  • Good audio quality

  • Dedicated sd card slot

  • Superb pricing

  • Well built

  • Dual-4G VoLTE

  • Supports HD Playback for Netflix and Amazon Prime (Supports Widevine L1 certification)

Cons

  • Camera lags behind the others in terms of quality

  • Dull design

  • No Glass protection

What's it missing?

  • Wifi-ac

  • IR Blaster

  • Gorilla Glass

  • USB-C

  • True waterproofing (No IP rating)

  • Useful Secondary camera (No optical zoom, wide angle)

  • 4K Video

  • Super slow motion video

  • Dedicated MicroSD card slot

  • Stereo speakers

  • Dedicated DAC

Made of metal and plastic the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 has a dull design and an obnoxiously long name. But the old saying of don't judge a book by its covers fits the phone perfectly. It comes with pretty much the same internals as the Redmi Note 5 Pro- up to 6GB of RAM, Snapdragon 636, 18:9 display and dual rear cameras. To add to that you have a whopping 5000mAh battery, louder speakers, an amplifier kit for your phone and the velvety smoothness of stock Android.

back camera of asus blue colour
back side view of asus gray colour

Add to that the promise of up to two version updates and you have truly one of the best smartphone in India under 15000 in the budget category. Critics too loved it with TechRadar loving the build quality, the display, amazing battery life and the raw power of the processor.  Android Central too was mighty impressed with the build, the dedicated sd card slot, the software, performance, and battery. They found the Asus better than the Redmi Note 5 Pro in terms of battery life.


When you undercut a budget phone like the Redmi Note 5 Pro you do have to make compromises in some departments. The major one here is the camera. The camera on the regular M1 and even the upgraded 16MPx units on the 6GB variants are simply no match to the Redmi Note 5 Pro's superior sensor. The 6GB version does boast of better colors and sharper images as confirmed by Beebom, they also found the display to be a wee bit brighter. So given the improvements, we would suggest the 6GB variant of the phone which costs the same as the 4GB variant of the Redmi Note 5 Pro at Rs.14,999. Also while the phone does support 4K video recording unlike the Redmi Note 5 Pro, it's not any good. Even the EIS powered 1080p videos aren't that great as found by Beebom.


Other places where Asus has skimped are the lack of  USB-C, true fast charging, no Gorilla Glass protection for the display and sadly no Wi-Fi ac.


But the main reason for picking up the Asus apart from the software and performance is the battery and boy does it deliver on that. Android Central, TechRadar, and Beebom all got two days worth of battery life from the phone and managed to charge the massive 5000mAh at around two and a half hours.

If you are in the market for a phone with great performance and battery life, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is tailor-made for you. The quality speakers and great display make it a great device for watching movies and listening to some tunes as well. OVerall, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is truly one of the best budget smartphones under 15000 and is totally worth the price.

 

Performance in Benchmarks

We used Antutu, PC Mark and 3DMark to gauge the smartphone performance. These benchmarks, to a certain extent, can assess CPU, GPU, storage, and battery performance. After running the test, they generate a number which can be used to compare the performances of each device.

3d mark bnch mark

The benchmarks show nothing much different that what we saw with the phones priced under Rs.10000. The Snapdragon 636 simply crushes the Huawei made Kirin 659 processor despite their phones not being priced much higher than it.
 

Who are our best picks for?


The Redmi Note 5 Pro with its superb display, great software, competent hardware and terrific cameras is perfect for photography, watching movies and gaming. The large 4000mAh battery is good too giving you long life for when you are on the move.


The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 meanwhile is a device suited for people who are away from the plug for a long time. The good display, processor, and large battery make it great for gaming, watching movies and web surfing. But the average cameras and video mean it doesn't quite make sense for photography.



After-sales service

Asus and Xiaomi both offer a 1-year warranty on the phones. For any issues, you can take the product to a service center or ask them to pick up your device from your home.

Xiaomi has for some time been upfront about their part costs and have displayed the prices of all their product spare parts. Here we see the Redmi Note 5 Pro part costs:

  • Front Cover Display Module :  Rs.3599

  • Mainboard Assembly: 4+64G   Rs.5899

  • Mainboard Assembly: 6+64G   Rs.7199

  • Battery: Rs.799

(Service Charges and relevant GST on spares extra as applicable)



Note for camera lovers & phones that were not selected


Opinions on the picture quality of a camera, like audio quality, is very subjective: some people prefer warm and saturated images, while others appreciate images with natural colours. Some prefer soft and bright skin tones in their selfies, while others may think that sharp and natural skin tones look better.


The cameras hardware isn't the only thing that makes a camera good—the software carries a fair share of the load. A camera that performs poorly today can perform miles better with a software update. Don't believe us? Look at the difference in the performance of Moto X, Razer Phone, Essential Phone, etc. before and after updates

We had enjoyed running the camera tests on the previous 15000 smartphone, as their image capturing capabilities were just so different! There were three types of cameras:

  • a single-sensor camera (Mi Max 2)
  • a high-megapixel sensor plus a low megapixel depth sensor-based system (Honor 9i & Honor 7x)
  • a normal focal length sensor plus a longer focal length sensor-based system (Mi A1)

We were absolutely blown away with the images from the Honor phones and the brilliant zooming capability of the Mi A1. But the current crop of smartphones see to only feature the depth based dual camera sensor without any fancy zoom, wide angle or monochrome option.

redmi camera shot

Redmi Note 5 Pro camera sample (Source: Fonearena)

asus camera shot

Asus Zenfone Max M1 camera sample (Source: Fonearena)


Fonearena was mighty impressed with the camera on the Redmi Note 5 Pro and they found it to do a fantastic job in most lighting conditions and with portrait shots as well. The only issue really that remains is the lack of 4K video recording.  


Honor 9i


The Honor 9i is the more expensive cousin of the Honor 7x. It is basically a 7x with dual front cameras, front camera flash, and a slightly-tweaked camera design. It sells at Rs.17,999 and comes in just one variant.


Camera aside the Honor 9i has a gorgeous screen like the Honor 7x and boasts of the same metal built quality. The Honor 9i sadly lacks Gorilla Glass protection. The Honor 9i also lacks a modern USB Type-C port. Given its Rs.17,999 price tag, it should have NFC and Gyroscope. The Honor 9i made for a perfect selfie and camera device if you are willing to compromise on the gaming performance and a few other niggles.


But If you want a camera phone thats good at gaming as well then look at the Redmi Note 5 Pro which is currently the best camera smartphone under 15000


Honor 7x

The Honor 7x has a good camera with a lot of settings that does well in most lighting conditions. Although the phone lacks 4K and 720p slow-motion video support. The Kirin-powered Honor 7x lags while playing Asphalt 8 at the highest settings. This is shocking, as even the Lenovo K8 Plus, which is priced below Rs.10,000, manages to run Asphalt 8 without any issues.

And what's more shocking is how Honor has given the phone one of the best displays in its range (an 18:9 Full HD panel) but has neglected performance. The more modern Note 5 Pro beats the Honor 7x on most counts including performance, battery, charging and camera.

Honor 9 lite

If there was a prize for the best-looking phone then the Honor 9 lite would definitely get picked, adorned with a lustrous glass back the Honor 9 lite looks far more premium than it is.  Other good things include the fact that it comes with Android Oreo, Face Unlock and a beautiful display that has punch colors and great viewing angles. But after that, it's pretty much downhill for the phone.

The processor lags behind the S636 powered Redmi Note 5 Pro in most benchmarks also it can't even play Asphalt 8 without lagging. Then there's EMUI, Honor custom skin on the Android 8.0 which simply feels so poorly done, its place should have been in a phone from many years ago. Moving onto the battery, things don't get any rosy here with the phone lasting almost a day but with light use only. Oh and coming to the charging despite a 3000mAh battery the phone takes 2 & ½ hours to fully juice up. This ends up making the Honor 9 lite suited for people only if they want a good camera and a great design but apart from that, it's safer to pick the Redmi Note 5 Pro

Redmi Note 5

The Redmi Note 5 is a great buy for Rs.9999 but the 4GB version of it costing around Rs. 11999 is too closely priced to the Redmi Note 5 Pro.

It loses to the Redmi Note 5 Pro in terms of the camera quality. It lacks bokeh modes and video stabilization and the selfie camera is inferior.

Also, the slower processor, when compared to the class-leading S636 in the Note 5 Pro, makes Note 5 less value for your money.

Redmi Y2

Priced at nearly Rs.12999 the Redmi Y2 uses the much older Snapdragon 625 processor, a HD+ display, just 3080mAh of battery and nothing significantly better that we can think of. All the selfie talk aside, what we don't understand is why to buy the Y2 when the Redmi Note 5 Pro offers a much better display, faster processor, larger battery and great cameras.

Moto G6

There was a time the OG Moto G was the best mid-range phone and was, in fact, the phone that started the high quality but budget-friendly smartphone trend. But it's no longer the same now, in its 6th iteration we have a watered down experience with a large and quality display but with an entry-level Snapdragon 450 processor, decent cameras but with a  small 3000mAh battery (this seems to be a hereditary thing as Moto never seems to go above 3000mAh even for their flagships). Combine all that with Moto's dwindling reputation when it comes to software updates and that Rs.14000 price tag for the 3GB/32GB variant just seems absurd.

Final Thoughts

With every manufacturer claiming to give you the best selfie experience, amazing gaming performance, best software and excellent battery life? It is simply too confusing to pick the best phone. With our research, we have managed to find two of the best smartphones in the Rs.15000 price category. 

The Redmi Note 5 Pro impresses in almost all the category boasting of a quality display, superb gaming performance, great battery life and best of all a great pair of cameras. Despite being in the market for some time now it still manages to be the best in its class and is truly deserving of the best smartphone in India under 15000 tag.

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 was Asus' sudden and rather surprising reentry into the mid-range segment. With a powerful Snapdragon 636 processor, 6-inch display, stock Android and a behemoth of a battery rated at 5000mAh the Asus Zenfone is truly the best smartphone in India under 15000 in the budget segment

Sources